Katy Bourne: Why would I want to be an MP?

I was labelled a raunchy tap dancer. The truth is more prosaic

Share
Related Topics

"How can a national newspaper call you a 'Cutie' at 45? You're my mum!" asked my highly amused 22-year-old son last weekend. He was, of course, referring to the fact that I had been shortlisted for interview at a safe Conservative parliamentary seat in Suffolk, where a row had supposedly broken out among members of the association concerning the candidate selection process.

I had unfortunately been caught in the media crossfire as one of six finalists, none of whom were "local" to the area. The ensuing story that unfolded labelled me as a raunchy tap dancer. The reality is more prosaic. I have built a (now large) business, teaching thousands of 16-80 year olds to dance. One can imagine how the grocer's daughter from Grantham would have reacted to the media's implication that small business owners were an insignificance to the nation.

I have spent the last 20 years raising a family as well as running a business. As anyone in a similar position will tell you, setting up a business from scratch, working long hours and fitting this around a growing family is never easy. But it is a process taking place in thousands of homes in constituencies across the country, because it's usually from the front room of a house that your first business venture begins.

Two questions regularly put to me before I was shortlisted were, first, why somebody running a business would want to be an MP; and, second, what right a non-local has to be an MP. Let me explain.

On the first: our country is facing enormous challenges. We need jobs and the right training for our young people, but we also need politicians from all walks of life, with a whole range of experiences and skills. I want to use the experience I have, and the commercial skills I have developed over the years, to make a real difference. And I want to encourage more women to come forward and contribute to public life too. On the second: some candidates will be local before they are selected for their seat; some will be local after. What matters more than whether or not they've grown up in the area where they are standing is a commitment to the constituency and the people they would serve.

The days before any final selection is always a busy time for candidates. Once we are chosen by a panel of local party members, we are then encouraged to engage with as many people in the constituency as possible, to invite them along to the final so that they can hear us answer questions and then vote for their favourite. It is a new, innovative method of selecting, brought in by David Cameron, and is an opportunity for anyone living in the constituency who is registered on the electoral roll to participate in the process.

In the run up to this selection, the councillors I met from both rural Suffolk and urban Ipswich were all extremely supportive and I experienced no hostility whatsoever – just a curiosity to find out more about me and what I could offer to the area if selected. On the night of the count, we were well looked after and the only amusing moment arose when it transpired that the lady who was looking after us was the same lady my photo had been juxtaposed against in the media that week. We both agreed that, given our ages, being called "cute" was quite an achievement.

Suffolk chose a great candidate, but it wasn't me this time. I am now busy applying to another seat and so the process begins all over again. The life of a candidate is never dull and with an impending election it can only get busier.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal  

What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson?

Memphis Barker
Chuka Umunna was elected MP for Streatham in 2010  

Could flirty Chuka Umunna be worth a punt for Labour’s top job?

Matthew Norman
Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world